The Federal Capital Territory Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, has officially commenced the construction of public toilets to end continued practice of open defecation in the nations’ capital.
At the event in Abuja on Tuesday, its Executive Director, Dr Mohammed Dan-Hassan, said access to clean and safe toilets will ensure human dignity for millions of Nigerians.
According to Dan-Hassan, the effort is aimed at ending Open Defecation in the city, saying the administration was committed to curbing the challenge of open defecation in the FCT.
He described ODF as a matter currently receiving not just national, but global attention, adding that the FCT administration through RUWASSA was determined to end the menace and promote proper hygiene.
According to him, 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities globally with about 1 billion people who practice ODF around the world.
The director also disclosed that 39.4 per cent of the FCT population is involved in ODF practices, with a promise to change the narrative.
He stated that access to adequate sanitation and the practice of ODF were global issues that go into the heart of his agency’s development objectives.
ODF, Dan-Hassan said, is not just a health risk because it leads to the spread of diseases, but also a security threat, especially to women and girls.
He said open defecation also causes the spread of diarrhoea – a condition linked to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene, noting that the health condition affects the lives of children each day.
According to him, improving access to sanitation and ending the practice of ODF can translate to fewer hospital visits, child death and missed school days.
Dan-Hassan stated that every US dollar spent on sanitation could give a return in investment between 9 US dollars and 40 US dollars, adding that Nigeria loses N455 billion annually due to poor sanitation.
The National Coordinator, Organised Private Sector in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH), Mr. Nicholas Igwe, thanked the FCT Administration for inaugurating the project, saying the development was impressive.
According to him, efficiency is key to achieving the momentous goal of ending ODF by the target year of 2025, adding that the move was a step in the right direction.
Igwe called on the 36 states to emulate the idea by locating public toilets in their various states to complement the Federal Government’s efforts in ending ODF and to have a cleaner and healthier Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani-Aliyu, has directed RUWASSA to accelerate action on ending ODF and to put in place other sanitation and hygienic measures in the FCT.
The minister also disclosed that the public toilets would be managed by a Non-Governmental Organisation to ensure proper maintenance and sustainability.
The FCT RUWASSA is responsible for facilitating WASH programs in Abuja. It was established in 2018 as a result of the declaration of a state of emergency on open defecation in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari.